Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, located on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Blowing Rock, is a historical staple of the region and home to Moses Cone Manor, aka Flat Top Manor. The park is 25 miles of carriage trails, intertwined with forests and open fields, on 3,500 acres that make up the whole estate.
The manor was built as a summer home in 1901 by Moses Cone, a textile entrepreneur, conservationist and philanthropist, who contributed to the area’s preservation by stocking lakes with bass and trout and establishing an apple tree orchard.
Cone, a trailblazer in protecting the natural beauty of the area, moved into the 23-room estate with his wife Bertha after the success of his textile mills, which produced high-quality denim fabric, earning him the title of “Denim King.”
The manor became both an escape from work for Cone and allowed him to “showcase his newfound wealth,” according to the estate’s history from Virtual Blue Ridge.
Cone died at age 51 in 1908, and Bertha passed away in 1947. Their graves are in a meadow at the bottom of Flat Top Mountain.
There are two manmade lakes on the property, one of which is Bass Lake, which is a landscape that often inspires local artists when they’re painting. The lake is a popular fishing spot for catching trout and bluegill, and only artificial lures are allowed in the lake, with a maximum of four fish allowed per fisherman per day, according to the town of Blowing Rock’s website.
Also on the grounds of the Moses Cone Memorial Park and on the first floor of the Moses Cone Manor, is the Southern Highland Craft Guild, aka the Parkway Craft Center, which showcases various regional artists and their mediums.
“The Cone Estate, including the Manor House and Parkway Craft Center, mean a great deal to Blowing Rock and the thousands of visitors that come here each year,” said Tracy Brown, executive director of the Blowing Rock Tourism Development Authority. “Hiking and fishing are common during the warmer months, and when there is snow, cross-country skiing is very popular. … Maybe one of the most important things regarding the Cone Estate is that it’s part of our National Park System, and that will never change. There will be no strip mall or parking lot put up in that piece of paradise.”
In 2019, the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation and a number of other Blowing Rock organizations hosted its annual Denim Ball event at the manor in order to raise funding for renovations and repairs to the home.
Attendees raised more than $200,000 to replace aspects such as its windows, bannisters and columns, making the total raised by the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation for the Moses Cone Manor more than $3 million of its $3.6 million goal.
Moses H. Cone Memorial park is protected by the National Park System. More information, along with maps of the area, can be found online at https://bit.ly/2Maiblh.